03 August 2023

I was not nicknamed The Sacker, police commander tells tribunal

03 August 2023

A senior police officer who allegedly smoked cannabis every day has denied his nickname in the Metropolitan Police force was the “Sacker”, due to the number of officers he dismissed for misconduct.

Commander Julian Bennett, who has served in the force since 1976, is said to have smoked cannabis before breakfast and work, where he would be praised by senior colleagues.

On Thursday a police tribunal at Southwark heard that Mr Bennett served as  chairman of numerous police misconduct hearings during his career.

Freedom of information requests showed Mr Bennett presided over 74 police misconduct hearings involving 90 officers between June 2010 and February 2012.

The newspapers called me The Sacker. I have never been called The Sacker

Out of the hearings involving Mr Bennett, 56 officers were dismissed – more than three-quarters.

He chaired 69 hearings during that time and two officers were dismissed for drugs misuse, the figures showed.

He was asked if he had a nickname that he was aware of.

Previously, it has been reported that he was known as “Sacker” due to the number of officers dismissed during his rulings.

“The newspapers called me The Sacker,” he said. “I have never been called The Sacker.”

He added: “I only dismissed people if it was the right and necessary thing to do.”

I have never taken cannabis or any other illegal drug

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Bennett denied that he had ever taken any illegal drugs.

“I have never taken cannabis or any other illegal drug,” he said.

“In my whole life I have never taken drugs.”

Mr Bennett wrote the force’s drugs strategy for 2017-21 as a commander for territorial policing.

The document, called Dealing With The Impact Of Drugs On Communities, set up plans to raise “awareness of the impact of drug misuse”.

He told the tribunal that he was “pretty neutral” on the issue of drug use.

“It is a very complicated issue,” he said.

“I am pretty neutral on it. There are some countries in the world where drugs are legalised.

“Too much attention can be given to the subject, when what the public wants is help with serious criminality.”

Mr Bennett is accused of breaching the force’s professional standards for discreditable conduct three times, honesty and integrity twice and orders and instructions once.

His actions are alleged to have amounted to gross misconduct.

He denies the allegations and has been suspended on full pay since July 2021.

Further allegations that he also took LSD and magic mushrooms were dismissed on Wednesday.

The tribunal continues.

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